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Is Your Betting Results Based on Luck or Skill?

11 Minute Read
betting results based on luck or skill

5 Ways to Find Out if Your Betting Results are Based on Luck or Skill

Sports betting is not easy. You're competing with the bookmaker's odds along with their commission. So, when you win a bet, it's important to know whether the result was due to your skill or just good luck. However, is it possible to tell? For a start, you need to collect your betting data and look at the numbers. Get rid of the outliers, including bets won or lost against massive odds. Then analyse how variance has taken its part.

Indeed, there's some truth in the idea that bettors will blame their losses on bad luck, but their wins are based on their own skill. It's likely just part of human nature. This leads us to an interesting question; how to tell if your betting outcome is the result of luck or skill? Let's find out if it's possible to answer this question in the 5 points we've listed below.

Do You Have a Large Enough Sample Size?

Any bettor can get lucky with a few bets. However, winning many bets over the long run can only be done with skill. The more results you've collected, the more accuracy and clarity you'll have in verifying how profitable you are. That's why collecting as many data points as possible is important.

A post on a famous online casino case study shows how much the tide can turn (an extreme example). In the case study, a player made an exceptionally positive start by placing 2,000 bets and holding a +5.77% Return on Investment (ROI). But after the time passed with 17,000 bets later, the yield flipped to negative. It was a losing strategy with -0.63% overall ROI.

Some winning streaks are nothing but luck, and there was no edge from the beginning. As seen from the case study above, other streaks are only "temporary" opportunities that existed but closed up as time passed. Then, the quality streaks represent a profitable, effective strategy. However, you need to collect enough data to be certain of what you're dealing with.

How does Your Strategy Perform if You Stick to Level Stakes?

As you look at past data, you'll realise that it's surprisingly easy to create a betting strategy that seems profitable by raising or lowering the stakes under specific conditions. Unfortunately, this doesn't mean that your strategy is profitable.

One rule to remember is that a selection system that doesn't produce any profit on a level stake basis doesn’t mean it will  profit under any staking plan.

Therefore, if you're betting huge amounts and that's why you're in the green, then it's best to nullify their impact from your overall analysis. This way, you'll be sure of your performance. Assume that all stakes in your sample are equal in size. And if the results are positive and steady, then this shows it's based on skill instead of luck.

There are two kinds of level-risk staking plans:

  1. You stake the same amount on every bet, regardless of the odds. This means whether the odds are 2.5 or 10.0, you'll still bet the same amount.
  2. You decide the risk by looking at the odds. This method accounts for the implied winning probability. Bigger stakes are placed on low odds and lower stakes on high odds. This will bring a consistent profit from any win, regardless of the odds.

The end results are about the same for both plans in the long run.

Does Your Strategy Have Any Reason Behind It?

Knowing why your strategy works (or doesn't) is crucial. If you have noticed a pattern that produces excellent results, try to identify how and why that's the case. Work out where the edge comes from. This should let you separate any good fortune from any skill on your next bets.

So, where does the edge come from?

Inside Information

If you're a sports bettor and have ways to receive precious inside information for a sport, then this would give you a clear advantage. Just make sure this doesn't make you a criminal at the same time.

Complex Findings

You might have discovered a trend backed up by a sufficient data set that most of the market overlook, which is the reason for your advantage. This approach has a higher success rate in less popular sports and markets.


Finding value odds faster than other bettors before the line moves or disappears is also a great way to secure an advantage.


You can also create a strategy based entirely on other bettors' or bookmakers' errors. This typically involves picking off pricing errors where the odds seem too high.

Every effective strategy offers an edge of some kind. Analyse your previous bets and see which one of these strategies you've actually been using.

Can Variance Impact Your Sports Betting Results?

If you've watched sports for a while, you'll know that the seemingly impossible outcome always seems to happen. So, for example, a rare 1000/1 winner will somewhat distort your data set if you're looking at your data set. This also goes the other way – you can lose a 1.10 bet that you've considered a "dead cert."

If you're looking for clean data on your performance, make sure to eliminate the extremes from your analysis. You can also do this by capping the odds, which ensures that good fortune doesn't play a big part in your results. Without any against-the-odds wins that inflate your overall profit and loss (PnL), only skill could dominate in the long run.

There may be a few variances in your performance over time. Still, you'll discover that your ROI% will start converging until it finds the place where it belongs. A good example is a casino with a fixed house edge on Roulette. We know that the house doesn't always win on each spin. It actually goes through many ups and downs. But over time, the house advantage will eventually reveal itself in profits.

Can You Beat the Closing Line (Starting Price)?

Professional bettors know that consistently beating the closing line or "Closing Price" yields positive results. We recommend you monitor the closing price of bookies and betting exchanges. This way, if you back significantly better odds, it clearly confirms that your results weren't just dumb luck.

Why does Overcoming the Start Price Work?

The start price or closing line represents the latest pre-event point, where the most money has been matched before moving onto in play. During this moment, the odds incorporate the public's opinions, whether retail or professional, from the lead-up to the event. The odds are likely to be the most accurate they'll ever be.

Tips to Boost Your Winning Opportunities in Sports Betting

Luck is indeed part of the sports betting process. But if you want to further improve your betting skills and eliminate any luck in taking part in your bets, here are the tips you should follow:

Control Your Emotions

One of the most common mistakes in sports betting is a tendency to blindly bet on your favourite team. Your favourite team shouldn't affect your decision-making abilities when betting on sports. You might dislike the team that has a better winning chance, but if you want to get the most out of your bets, you need to stick with placing logical bets!

Set Your Budget

Every sports bettor should be aware of the money they're willing and able to fork out. Even the most successful bettors must set their limits as money doesn't come by infinitely. Make sure you have sturdy bankroll management and that you've set an affordable budget – whether it's daily, weekly or monthly- and stick to it. This will affect your opportunities to place rational bets that produce the biggest wins. You can easily overspend without proper control over your budget and become anxious to win every bet you've placed.

Be Selective

Bookies offer various sports events and odds to place bets on nowadays. Therefore, this great selection also comes with great responsibility. Make sure you're selective with your bets, as placing too many of them can lead you to lose more money. It's better to focus on building your sports betting knowledge and take your time to place well-thought-out bets.

Conclusion – Skills vs Luck in Sports Betting

We hope that our tips have given you an idea of whether you're a skilled winner or if you've just relied on luck when betting on sports. The bottom line is to take the time to verify your betting profitability before overcoming yourself with excitement. This will save you a lot of disappointment (and money) in the long run.

Published on 13 September 2022 Last updated on 30 September 2022
Author: Tiago Martins

Tiago Martins


Tech entrepreneur and passionate about statistics, Tiago co-owns APWin and is responsible for all the technology that powers the platform.

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